Sunday, August 19, 2012
HOPE SPRINGS eternal?
I try to keep up on films that are being made, but I don't remember hearing news about this film and the trailer for Hope Springs snuck up on me. It was one of those movies that I kind of wanted to see, but resigned myself to the fact that I won't see it anytime soon (my bf can't be dragged to this kind of film) and I wanted to see it with someone. It normally would have been with my mother but she is out of town. Then I got an invite from a good friend (Hey, Carl!) and off we went to spend date night with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell as the third wheel.
Kay and Arnold Soames are empty nesters who sleep in separate beds and go about their daily routines without variation. Kay would like to have sex with her husband as it's been a while, but Arnold always has an excuse. But Kay doesn't give up. She decides to take money from her own savings, buy plane tickets to Maine and spend a week in marriage counseling sessions with Dr. Bernie Feld (a very tamed down Carell). Arnold scoffs, but eventually goes with her, grumbling all the way (he's definitely a new generation Grumpy Old Man). The married couple reveal secrets about themselves and peel back the layers that have gathered over 30 years of marriage. Some news is welcomed while other news is disheartening and tough to hear. Kay wants sex. Arnold has lost interest. They've both become complacent in their own lives and relationship.
The film hinges on the performances of its two leads, and Streep and Jones are great in their roles. They're the heart of the film and without them the film would fail miserably because the plot itself is paper thin and the story is weak and tends to linger on the superficial. But that being said, I loved the characters. I felt for Streep's Kay as she tries to light a fire under her marriage, as she tries to look pretty for her husband, as she tries to find her sexual spark again. She transforms herself into this housewife with mom hair that I kept thinking made her look frumpy, but that's the beauty of Streep. She doesn't just play frumpy she becomes frumpy with a hint of something underneath. Jones is so crotchety in his oldness that as I laughed at his bitchiness I also wanted to punch him for it. I laughed a lot during this film (as did the audience) because some of the scenes were embarrassing, but realistic that it felt like we were flies on the wall. One second you're laughing and the next you're stifling a cringe as the heartbreak of awkward moments bounces off the screen and onto your lap. And Steve Carell is fantastic in his role as a marital therapist. He is understated and genuine and his tone is soft and deliberate. I really liked him in this film. He is more than just a funny face.
If you're a Streep fan and want to see how an aging couple deal with the empty nest (and in this case the empty bed) then Hope Springs is for you. You don't have to be an old married couple to enjoy it, or even old. The theme is universal and I think no matter your age or your relationship status this film is relatable. I just wish that some moments weren't glossed over and that a little bit more digging was done. But overall, I had a fun time out on a non-date date night for what is essentially a date movie.